Review: Puma AIM Inheritance Tax Service

Archived article

Archived article: please remember tax and investment rules and circumstances can change over time. This article reflects our views at the time of publication.

This award-winning AIM IHT service is now three years old. It is managed by Puma Investments, part of Shore Capital, one of the largest AIM market makers. It is a discretionary investment portfolio of around 20 companies which should qualify for Business Property Relief. 


  • Focused portfolio of 20 AIM-listed companies
  • Often family-owned or founder-controlled firms
  • Experienced manager investing in small and medium sized companies for 18 years
  • Portfolio has a good three year track record 
  • ISA available
  • Minimum investment £15,000

Video interview

The manager

The Puma AIM IHT service is managed by Puma Investments, part of Shore Capital – itself an AIM-listed business and market maker to many AIM listed companies. 

The investment director is Justin Waine, who has been investing in small and medium-sized companies for 18 years. Mr Waine started his career as a small company broker at Cazenove, before joining Polar Capital to launch a European long/short hedge fund focused on small and medium-sized companies. He joined Puma in June 2014 and launched the IHT portfolio in July 2014. 

Mr Waine was attracted to Puma’s long-term investment style. He had analysed AIM extensively and realised the market had changed enormously. In his view the market no longer included just speculative high-risk businesses but also plenty of long-term mature ones, which are the focus of this portfolio.


The portfolio targets mature AIM businesses screened across three key metrics: Quality, Growth and Value. Capital preservation is also a priority.

Mr Waine focuses on two kinds of companies: firstly, family or founder-owned, as they often are on AIM for Business Property Relief reasons; and secondly companies controlled by a successful entrepreneur. Long-term buy and build holdings are also considered, provided they’re not aggressively acquisitive. 

Whatever the company type, Mr Waine seeks businesses with potential returns above the cost of capital. Discounted cash flow analysis is done for every company using Puma’s own internal metrics and analysis and a fair value price target is set.

The portfolio seeks companies with decent margins, sales and profit growth and a sensible balance sheet. Having a cheap share price isn’t the most important factor for Puma. A strong balance sheet is more important.

Unlike many of his peers, Mr Waine does not often meet company management teams. After leaving his previous fund management role, he analysed his portfolio returns and concluded there was no correlation between share price performance and whether he had had a meeting. Today he only meets about ten companies a year. 


Source: Puma Investments. Please note: past performance is not a guide to the future.

Annual performance (to 31 December each year, %)

Below is the average annual performance of the portfolio for each calendar year since launch.

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Puma AIM IHT Portfolio  —  — 4.72%* 30.90% 4.98%
FTSE AIM All-Share Index (AXX) 2.02% 20.29% -17.48% 5.23% 14.29%

Source: Puma Investments. Past performance is not a guide to the future. All performance data is quoted net of management and dealing fees, and applies to the Investment Director’s portfolio. Small variations in performance may apply as each individual investor has their own discrete portfolio of assets. * Performance data for the full five years is not available as the portfolio launched in July 2014

For the first half of the year to 30 June 2017, Mr Waine's portfolio has returned 16.35%, whilst the FTSE AIM All-Share index returned 14.40% (source: Puma Investments).


Investors will each hold a portfolio of around 20 shares. Each portfolio aims to closely mirror the investment director’s own portfolio. 

The portfolio seeks to be fully invested in AIM shares, with only a small cash position (approximately 3-5%). The average position size is 3% to 6%, with no position greater than 10% of the portfolio.

The portfolio avoids early-stage companies such as loss-making miners, biotechnology companies and high-growth concept stocks, as well as small and illiquid companies with a market cap under £50 million.

Currently, the average market capitalisation of companies in the portfolio is £381 million (June 2017). Companies are typically bought with a three to five-year time horizon. 

What kind of companies are in the portfolio?

H&T Group 

H&T Group is an example of a portfolio company that ticks all the right boxes, in Mr Waine’s view. It is the UK’s leading pawnbroker, with good cash flow. It was founded in 1897 and has survived despite tough market conditions in recent years. Its main competitor was Albemarle & Bond until it folded. H&T operates in a niche, with a strong market position. It is cash generative and has a low valuation based on Puma’s internal valuation. The company listed on AIM in 2006 and currently has a market cap of £106 million.

H&T Group makes up 6.13% of the portfolio, as at 30 June 17.

Safestyle UK

Safestyle UK is another example of a niche company where Puma sees opportunity. It manufactures uPVC windows and doors. It operates in a fragmented market dominated by three companies and with a very long tail of smaller ones. Safestyle has spent a lot of money on its manufacturing process to give it a cost edge and management has a big stake. It listed on AIM in 2013 and the current market cap is £193 million.

Safestyle UK makes up 5.66% of the portfolio, as at 30 June 17.

Scapa Group

Scapa Group was founded in 1927 and is a global supplier and manufacturer of adhesive-based products and bonding solutions for the Healthcare and Industrial markets. In particular, it makes adhesive tapes, where the global market is growing approximately 5% a year. Adhesive tapes have healthcare applications in wound care, in fixing medical devices or for drug delivery (eg patches). Scapa has production sites in Asia, Europe and the US. 

The stock has historically been the largest holding in the portfolio, at close to 10%. Earlier this year the position was reduced to re-balance the portfolio. Scapa Group now makes up 6.37% of the portfolio as at 30 June 2017. It has a market cap of £689 million.


Please remember this is a long-term commitment and capital is at risk: AIM shares are considered more risky and more volatile than more mainstream investments. Investors should not invest money they cannot afford to lose.

Liquidity of companies listed on AIM is a key risk in this service. AIM shares can be volatile with little trading at certain points.

One further risk is that this is a more concentrated portfolio than other IHT portfolios with around 20 stocks, placing more importance on the stock-picking abilities of the manager. The portfolio centres on Justin Waine so there is some key man risk.

Under current rules, BPR-qualifying AIM investments held for at least two years and on death should be free from IHT but please remember tax rules can change and tax benefits will depend on circumstances. HMRC will only assess if assets qualify for BPR on death.


There is an initial fee of 1% (normally 4%) to invest through Wealth Club. The annual management charge is 2% plus VAT and there is a 1% dealing fee. There is no performance fee. These charges compare favourably with other AIM IHT products.


The Puma AIM Inheritance Tax Service now has three years under its belt and performance has been encouraging, although of course there are no guarantees this will continue in future. The service targets mature AIM businesses screened across three key metrics: Quality, Growth and Value. Investment director Justin Waine is very experienced and knows what he is looking for in a company. There is some crossover with other AIM ISA portfolios as you might expect, but some different holdings too, which could provide diversification.

Wealth Club aims to highlight investments we believe have merit, but you should form your own view. You should decide based on the provider's documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. This review is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy the investment mentioned. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination. 

Puma AIM Inheritance Tax Service

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